Graduate has Baby while busy with Master’s Studies
Ms Mutinta Cheelo graduated with a Master’s in Adult Education degree for which she explored language and literacy practices of African immigrants in Pietermaritzburg.
Cheelo fell pregnant during her studies and gave birth earlier this year to a girl, Lukundo.
‘It was not easy at first because of the pressure of being pregnant and the pressure of my research as well. It affected me in the sense that I was a bit behind with my research according to my planned schedule,’ said Cheelo.
‘Being my first pregnancy, I had a lot going on in my mind but I told myself that nothing would take my focus away. As a result, I pushed myself to finish and submit my work before I gave birth because I was determined to finish my master’s.’
Her research investigates factors leading to the choice of language and also the affects the language and literacy practices have on the education of both parents and their children.
Cheelo was born into a family of 10 and her parents ensured that all their children were educated. ‘Through the little money they got from peasant farming, they were able to pay for our education.
‘Seeing my parents work hard, I became determined to further my studies. I realised that if my parents - who didn’t have the opportunities I had - could achieve that, then I could do more.’
Cheelo hopes her research will highlight the challenges faced by society, while at the same time providing efficient ways in which illiteracy can be dealt with.
‘Cell phones for example have become one of the most efficient ways of communication today. There are so many platforms on cell phones today and one needs at least some basic knowledge to learn how to operate them.’
She thanked her supervisor Dr Sandra Land for the support and advice. ‘My husband was also very supportive in so many ways. He supported me financially, going through my work and also coming up with some ideas too. My family and friends encouraged me as well.’
Asked about her future plans, Cheelo said, ‘I am passionate about literacy especially among adults who did not have a chance to get an education. I plan to work for a few years so that I can raise money to start an adult literacy centre.’- Melissa Mungroo